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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  November 28, 2015 1:00am-1:31am EST

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>> lead paint... plaster that is falling... rodent infestation. >> if it was your own children, you'd have the money to take care of it. >> who does the buck stop with? i i'm ali velshi. i on target tonight, america's new asylums. why the mentally ill are more likely to end in prison rather than in hospital. criminal justice reform has become a rallying cry for liberals and conservatives
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alike. it has been a major focus for president obama in last years of his term. from sentencing reform for inmates to easing reentry into society for former prisoners, there are rare bipartisan agreement that the way we dispense justice in this country is flawed and it needs fixing. gaols are in need of some serious reform as well. in particular, something needs to be done about the surging numbers of mentally ill who are cycling in and out of incarceration. according to the national institutes of health, one out of every 17 adults in this country lives with a serious mental illness, but chances are you won't find them in a proper treatment facility. instead, they are more likely statisticalally to be found in america's new asigh lumbar spine, emergency rooms, homeless shelters and above all gaols--
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asue limbs, emergency rooms. the criminal justice system is going bankrupt incarcerating the mentally ill making sick people sicker more ill. the largest mental health providers are, in fact, james and prisons not hospitals. according to in surveys between 20 and 80% of all inmates in america suffer from some diagnosable mental illness and once incarcerated people with mental illnesses remain locked up eight times longer than people without mental illnesses at seven times the cost to taxpayers. that is why one judge in florida has made it his mission to change the system. he is doing all he can to take mental illness out of the criminal justice system and stop making the nation's gaols and prisons america's new asylums.
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can you toll me and we're responding-- follow me and we're responding. she says she's not feeling well. she might be maybe a schizophren schizophreniaic or suffering from bipolar serious mental illness has made its home in the streets of miami county. police officers like mrarco handle thousands of mental-health related calls a year anything from suicide attempts to breaks. they know first hand just how the city's mental health crisis has become a criminal justice nightmare, but thanks to the
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vision of this man they have also become the first step of the solution. steven lifeman is the judge from the criminal division in miami we have the highest percentage of people with mental illnesses in any urban area in the united states. 9.1% of our population generation. provided with florida, that has resulted in all of our gaols becoming the will largist psychiatric facilities in the state for years lifeman watched as the failings of an over burdened mental hilth system brought those suffering from serious mental illnesses, from schizophrenia to manic depression flooding into his courtroom. i might be able to keep you out of this place with treatment this 34-year-old paranoid schizophreniai who has been
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arrested 33 times since 2002. without treatment, he and others will end up living on the streets. there they self medicate with drugs or alcohol and eventually land in jail for pan-handling, trespassing or petty theft a lot of crimes we get are the quality of life offences. they're not committing horrible offences two million people with mental illness go to state and local gaols every year. more than 350,000 are inkass rated in federal prisons. since 2008 an additional five billion dollars in mental health services have been cut. that has meant there's no ten times more people behind bars than in state-funded psychiatric treatment. when you have to at some point ask yourself, what is wrong with the society that is willing to spend more money to incarcerate people that are ill than to treat them.
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the criminal justice system is wholly il-equipped to provide effective mental health treatment this man is with the national alliance on mental illness. he says while slashed budgets have taken a toll, it has been a focus on punishment than prevention that has been the real problem the reality is it's far less costly to intervene at the front end and link people with treatment. this is no different than providing humane effective treatment to somebody who has a stroke. that's what people don't understand. these are very treatable ilnesses. people with mental ilnesses have better recovery rates than people with diabetes or heart disease. you have to get to them and work with them to stay in treatment tired of seeing the same faces return time and again, each time sicker than the last are judge lifeman in 2000 began
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a one-man campaign to get the mentally ilout of the criminal justice system and into the services they really need. your goal is to get her to comply just by using your verbal and nonverbal skills that started with bringing in a training program that taught cops how to recognise and handle those with mental ilness and to help keep them out of jail. police officers now refer a third of people to emergency psychiatric facilities for medical care instead of arresting them. those that do get arrested for nonviolent offences can opt into a court program that allow charges to be dropped or reduced in exchange for completing treatment. he is taking the medications this is one of those who have chosen the program over jam. he has managed to stay on his meds and avoid joule jail for a
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year. lifeman's efforts have been credited with dropping the jail population by 40%. so much so that the city was able to close down an entire jail last year, a saving of 12 million dollars a year. the percentage of people with serious mental illness who were re-arrested for a university of missouri demean you're fell from 72%-- misdemeanour. this has not been done anywhere in the united states. >> reporter: the final piece of lifeman's vision may be his biggest gamble yet. this abandoned psychiatric institution to be changed into an area for those who are at risk. the facility will have its own in-house crisis stabilization and treatment center, courtroom, rehab program. we have this massive
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kitchen here even a commercial kitchen to teach job skills in the food service industry. in the end it will cost tax pacers $22 million. while people say why so much money, life goods man says it would otherwise be a big mistake. we could continue doing what we're doing now which is costing billions of dollars or we can intervene and get them to get their lives back and have an opportunity up next what miami is doing to ensure those with mental illness don't just become another crime statistic. entertaining. no topic off limits. >> 'cause i'm like, "dad, there are hookers in this house".
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>> exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. >> these are very vivid, human stories. >> if you have an agenda with people, you sometimes don't see the truth. >> "talk to al jazeera". monday, 6:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america.
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we now continue our conversation on america's mentally ilcycling through our criminal justice system. even though an estimated 9.6 million americans live with some form of serious ilness, screes, buy molar, an estimated of 70% with serious mental ilness are not getting the help they need. that has a direct affect on the crime statistics. by some estimates at least half of all people shot and killed by police in the united states have mental health problems. that why we turn to the human turn of our dysfunctional mental health system.
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we see how those living with mental illness become more than just a igne item in the police blotter. 38-year-old was shot and killed outside his dallas home last june. he was carrying a screwdriver that officers on the scene said they found life threatening. his mother says he wasn't violent. he simply needed help transporting him to the hospital get back on his meds. headsets death remains murky, but one thing is clear, that in this country there remains a dangerous at times lethal lack of awareness about mental illness mental ilillnesses are still very much understood. they're still very much the subject of stigma and stereo typical and sometimes
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prejudicial assumptions. >> reporter: ron is national director of policy and legal affairs for the national alliance on mental ilness. he says it's exactly these misconceptions that can lead to death. officers are oftentimes trained to take control of situations and control often times means acting fairly aggressively, speaking loudly can mean surrounding an individual, it can mean coming on to a person in a way that seems threatening. for someone who is in a full-blown psychiatric crisis and who may be experiencing delusions, that kind of response may escalate the crisis and sometimes it can even result in deadly circumstances. >> reporter: by some estimates at least half of all people shot and killed by police in the united states have mental health problems. that's one out of every two fatal encounters, and that has
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led some 2700 police departments around the country to establish programs that specially train officers for situations involving mental illness. do you think i'm a crazy person? reporter: steven lifeman is also a crusader for those mentally ill. he says the crisis intervention team to his district mass been a game changer. the city police, before we had the cit program, had one shooting a month, usually fatal, of a person with a mental illness. they have had four or five in the last eight years. i take a different approach, try to talk to them, make sure they're okay. >> reporter: marco of the
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police department has been a cit trained officer for four years and he hasn't had a single mental health call become physical. he says a little bit of empathy and patience can go a long way. to me, actually, you know, trying to reach out to them and instead of fighting me they are settle and accept my help >> reporter: thinking about violence and mental illness conjures up some of the worst mass shootings. virginia tech, newtown, even in louisiana movie theatre. it is a common assumption that people with mental illness tend for more violent. lifeman says research shows the opposite. for people that are on medication with mental illnesses, prevalence of violence is lower than the general population. frankly, they're much more likely to be victims of violent
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crimes than perpetrators. >> reporter: those who do pose, the ticking bombs, have behaviour linked directly to not receiving treatment. america's mental health system is overburdened. some 60% of adults with mental illness aren't getting the help they need the people who want to help on over whelmed with work. there's no money for anything. >> reporter: he is one of the many that lives with illness e he was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 22. he ended up living on the streets. i weighed 135 pounds, i starching, i was dirty, i was hearing voices and seeing things it was finally his arrest for a nonviolent crime eight years ago that stopped his descent into potentially damaging behaviour. it wasn't until i got arrested that i actually got the
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help i needed through the jail diversion program. i got clean off the drugs >> reporter: he now works as a peer specialist for the program that he credits with his recovery. the brain child of lifeman, the criminal mental health project does what a fragmented health system cannot. it gets people treatment and makes sure they don't fall through the cracks. for the most seriously ill, that involves taking them to doctor appointments, sipping them up for pouchitis and even finding-- signing them up for benefits and signing them up for house. i was on the street and people don't believe it when they see me for family members feeling lost in the system, the program connects them to supportive services and finally gives them hope their loved ones won't just become a statistic i didn't know where to turn or what to do. >> reporter: martha's
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41-year-old son robert had been hospitalised every couple of months for schizophrenic breaks. they they only want to prosecute this case. they are not prosecuting you whatsoever and good luck and congratulations. >> reporter: on this day celebrating his graduation from the program, she finally had hope for a new reality for both her and her son. he is able to do so many things now. i'm hoping that robert will get a wife and move out my house. and i believe that one day that's going to happen. you know, i'm so proud of him right now. i'm so proud up next why mental illness may be a last frontier in on the job discrimination.
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we just took a look at the human cost of our broken mental health system and there are even more ways society pays for failing to get those suffering from mental illness they need. depression is a major cause of absenteeism and productive loss amongst working aged adults. that costs u.s. employers an estimated 23 billion dollars annually. that's according to a survey. because of the stigma of mental illness, workers who wouldn't
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hesitate to ask for time off for physical illness are afraid to risk their careers by asking for mental health days. the good news is that more efforts are being made to educate companies. among those leading the charge is patrick kennedy who tried to hide his own struggles with depression. my world was immediately crashing down on me nearly 46 million americans suffer from some form of mental illness, yet on the job stigma remains the most destructive aspect of that is the message that the person gets. implicitly which is keep it a secret, keep it to yourself. >> reporter: patrick suffered in silence for years. to the outside world, he was living a privileged life, the
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member of an american dynasty. on the surface, i'm doing press conferences, i'm voting, i must be winning in the game of life. >> reporter: but he was losing his own battle with depression. i thought that i was "keeping it together", when, in fact, i'm home drinking myself to sleep, abusing medications because i'm worried about what people will think if i go to treatment, and the end result is i self-destruct. >> reporter: on 4 may 2006 at 2.45 a.m. the then five-term congressman crashed his car into a barricade. he told police he was late for a vote. i have a vague recollection of terror waking up not knowing
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where my car was and knowing that something happened that was bad the night before. >> reporter: he claimed he had taken the sleeping pill anon. the next day he publicly acknowledged for the first time that he was abusing alcohol and pills to relieve the symptoms of a debilitating depression i accepted the consequences of my actions. i've cooperated fully with the capital police and with the attorney-general's office. it was the beginning of my treatment. >> reporter: he was cited with three traffic violations, entered rehab and was reelected to a sixth term. in 20011 after 16 years in politics, he left the family business to become a full-time mental health advocate. he hopes to make life easier for people like debora enjeny yorkes. you don't want to get into a hot tub when you're pregnant but it should be okay.
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>> reporter: as a home health counsellor who is bipolar. owe really enjoy a job well done. it assists in quelling the symptoms of my bipolar. it makes me feel like i'm doing well in life. >> reporter: she enjoys being her own boss after experiencing a traumatic workplace incident in 2008. at first the job at a health food store seemed to be going well. one woman training me complimenting me, she enjoyed working with me and she was glad that i learned so quickly and so i felt very confident that i had been doing a really good job, and my boss had also been saying a great job >> reporter: after a few weeks she felt secure enough to tell her boss she was attending a bipolar support group. that's good, good for you she goes. that was it. >> reporter: or so she thought.
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when she returned to work the next week, her boss had a decidedly different tune she was having difficulty making eye contact with me. she was saying, your performance really isn't up to par. she goes, you're not quite doing what we need you to do. really, bipolar is affecting your work i was stunned and shocked. i felt confused and started to feel hurt because i felt i'd been doing a great job and it didn't make sense. that is outrageous and one of my goals is to build enough credibility and power to fight back. this is going to be a political issue >> reporter: patrick ken deis working to create a ceo round table on mental help to help executives to handle mental health care in the workplace.
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a principal health care benefits consultant is one of the leaders he enlifted to get companies on board. i've had mental illness in my family. i had a brother who committed suicide when i was younger and i don't know whether we could have stopped the outcome of my brother taking his life, but i do think that the lack of acceptance in a society does make it harder for people to engage with the treatment center available. >> reporter: untreated mental illness costs the u.s. about 105 billion dollars a year in lost productive and 20 billion dollars in lost earnings per year very effective and productive workers can have mental illness. sometimes it can be the top performance. when someone experiences stress and psychological health,
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the signs are not so obvious. >> reporter: other businesses are being proactive as well. glaxo smith cline says 80% employees rolled in a program reported lower stress and fewer lost work days. since caterpillar started a disability program average lost work time for psychiatric short-term disability decreased over 40%. thompson admits truly changing corporate culture will take time. i think companies still are uncomfortable dealing with people who have a mental illness. >> reporter: patrick now four years sober knows better than most that initiating real change is a work in progress. it's one step at a time. it's not cliche to say that that's our show for today. i'm ali velshi. thanks for joining us.
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the news continues here on al jazeera america. >> there's been a large and rapid run up in a number of individuals who say they are not affiliated with any religion and don't believe what religions teach. but the religious profile is moving in the direction of those other countries . will those trends give religious bodies less clout in the future, will america in 2050 and 2100 be a much different place as a result? losing my religion, it's the

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